Finding Traction

I watched a documentary last night on Netflix called Finding Traction that got me super PUMPED. It was about an ultra runner named Nikki Kimball who set out to beat the course record (not just the women’s record, but the men’s as well) on the 273-mile Long Trail in Vermont. Yep, you read that right. 273 freaking miles. That’s more than 10 marathons, back to back. And this isn’t on a nice and smooth concrete road. No, it’s on long stretches of mountainous terrain, over sharp rocks and through the forests.

WOW! How crazy does someone have to be to try something like this?

But that’s the thing. Some people crave the adrenaline, love pushing their bodies to the limit, and live for the challenge of attempting the impossible. While some strive to live a comfortable life, ease into a steady and predictable routine, and end up on their death bed completely unscathed and in pristine condition, others aim to live their lives to the fullest.

The most admirable thing about the whole movie was Nikki’s grit. I honestly believe grit is the most important ingredient to success, and she clearly has a ton of it. Seeing those raw moments of desperation, of frustration, of begging to give up, and then seeing her pick herself back up was truly impressive. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but watching this movie reminded me of all the struggles we go through for a chance to achieve success.

You rarely see the mundane day-to-day trials and tribulations. In real life, you rarely spot the moments where the protagonist is wallowing in self-defeat and so ready to throw in the towel. No, it’s much more exciting and uplifting to see our hero sprint past the finish line, all smiles and shouts of victory.

As this year is coming to an end, I’m reflecting on how I’ve changed in 2016, what goals I’ve accomplished, and what I want to set out to achieve in 2017. I’ve been much more lax this year about running, and I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing. For one, I’m bouncing back from plantar fasciitis, trying to take it slowly and avoid burnout. I’ve also been distracted with other goals outside of running—professionally, romantically, cookingly (?), and other ways of learning to be an adult. I often think back on 2013 and 2014, about how focused I was on running and how determined I was to qualify for the Olympic Trials, which now seems like an unbelievably lofty goal.

Back then, I was definitely a marathon newbie, and feeding off the adrenaline of setting PR after PR certainly helped keep me motivated. Now that I’m much more experienced, and the PRs aren’t coming as easily, and with fresh memories of an injury that kept me off of running for more than year, it’s harder to throw everything I have into running again.

Maybe now’s the time to go after those goals again, not with reckless abandon, but with the strong and steady burn of grit and resilience. We’ll see what the new year holds.

Let’s do this, 2017!


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